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European Tour chief executive George O'Grady haunted by decision to play on after caddie death

Updated: Monday, 19 May 2014 17:28 | Comments

European Tour chief executive George O'Grady
European Tour chief executive George O'Grady

European Tour chief executive George O'Grady admits he will have to live forever with the decision to finish the Madeira Islands Open following the death of caddie Iain McGregor.

Zimbabwean McGregor suffered a suspected heart attack on the ninth hole at Santo da Serra and, although an indefinite suspension of play was initially announced, the decision was later taken to resume the event, which had already been reduced to 36 holes due to bad weather.

Many players and caddies criticised that decision and O'Grady apologised for the "hurt and upset" caused following a meeting with the European Tour Caddies Association during the Spanish Open last week.

O'Grady has also set up a review of the situation to ensure lessons are learned and said on Monday: "As I told the caddies' association in that very traumatic meeting, if you second-guess every decision you make you go mad.

"I have to live with that decision for the rest of my life. There were facts that weren't brought to life until later which is that the police refused to let the body go until they had seen his passport.

"He died doing the job he absolutely loved and my feeling at the time was that by playing on it was what he would have wanted to do. That was my own personal view.

"Of course when you listen to everybody and how hurt they feel you can consider it again, but you have to make decisions.

"I can go right back to Zambia when I was very young and a kid was killed in the night and I spent all night dealing with that, and then at seven in the morning from the hospital had to decide whether we played that day or not; we played.

"I don't think you can say things are right or wrong because on the basis of the information then, we felt it was right. You might think differently again but it had been a tough week for our team down there.

"Whether the decision was right or wrong it was made with a very caring intent for the good of the tournament, for him and his role.

"We all knew him and we do masses of work for, and with, the caddies and I personally understand the depth of emotion of some of the caddies."

Speaking after last week's meeting, Gerry Byrne, chairman of the European Tour Caddies Association, said: "While we understand that decisions have to be made at very short notice, it will come as no surprise to anyone that all European Tour caddies felt the wrong one was made in Madeira.

"We went into the meeting unhappy and it was emotional at times, but George's humility and honesty in dealing with tough questions was greatly appreciated and it reassured us of the caddies' important position within the Tour."

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